GRINtroducing: Gabby Edlin
The ultimate bloody babe talks all things periods, yeah you read that right!
“I love that giving pads is saying, ‘we’ve got this covered, you don’t ever need to worry about your period when you’ve got so much else to worry about.”
How do you think collaborating and building a creative network helps further the cause/benefit the success of Bloody Good Period?
At Bloody Good Period (BGP) we don’t do ‘poverty porn’: we don’t show stories and photos of sad women without pads, because we don’t believe anyone should have to extract their stories of trauma in order to get the help they need and deserve. Instead, we do vibrant art, which pulls people in and makes them part of the conversation and the solution, and we can only do that with our Creative Network! They’re absolutely instrumental to us kickstarting and sustaining conversations around periods, which is a really important part of what we do. Periods have been hidden away and shrouded in shame and secrecy for so long – to have art out there that makes them feel normal, important, a shared experience, funny… it’s vital. Our artists produce material that makes people feel like they belong to our movement and inspired to do something about it too. And we hope they have fun producing art that really makes a difference but is genuinely interesting (and often funny), and about a topic they might not have got the chance to work on before.
Was there a point where you looked at BGP and felt it all come together, or has it very much been baby steps?
Both! In one way it felt like it came together from the very moment it started, because people started engaging with it straight away, which was great – the pad donations just flooded in (pun intended). But I also had to be cautious and take baby steps, because it is such a huge topic. There are other great organisations and activists doing stuff in the area too, such as the Free Period campaign and the #endtampontax campaign, so we wanted to work alongside them rather than try to take everything on. From that perspective it’s been gradual, making sure what we do makes sense and has an impact, and is also sustainable.
Has there been a stand-out moment for you at BGP?
Last year we ran a fundraising campaign called Festive Period. The fab people at A Studio Of Our Own made it a massive success – we especially loved their hashtag, #FlowHoHo. In the New Year, it was entered into a competition as an example of outstanding creative work at a conference called IWITOT (I Wish I Thought Of That), by the amazing Camille St-Omer Donaldson – she won an award for her presentation about it. That was pretty surreal, and amazing – seeing our campaign highlighted as an example of fundraising and creative excellence, and winning a competition!
Have there been any weird donations…. if so what’s the weirdest?
Well they’re not weird exactly, because I do understand why people send them, but we can’t take donations of loose pads or tampons! Often this is what people have lying around and I get why people would like them to go to ‘a good cause’, but we need to have full packs of products – because they’re the most useful thing for women and people who menstruate, a single product doesn’t go very far – that are in guaranteed good condition, because that’s what the people we work with bloody deserve. Loose products are often a bit battered and they tend not to come with accurate product information, so we don’t know what we’re giving out, and crucially, we don’t know if they are still in date. Lots of people also don’t realise that tampons expire, and after that point they are not proven safe to use, so we definitely can’t give those out!
We can’t recycle pads or tampons, but we do put them to good use – we’ve donated them for art projects, we’ve used them for comedy games at our fundraising events, we’ve made tampon bunting to get people talking… but we literally have a mountain of loose tampons in our storage unit, so please don’t send us any more!
We’ve also received a lot of random stuff over the years – the strangest was probably Nespresso capsules… we’ve also had a travel pass holder, dirty bras… so occasionally we have to remind people that we’re not a recycling facility. Pads only please!!
If you could get one celebrity or person with a lot of social influence on board with BGP, who would you want on your team and why?
Michelle Obama. Or Beyonce. Either would be great. But preferably both.
Who or what do you turn to for inspiration?
For period activism, the amazing author of books including ‘The Managed Body’, Chris Bobel.
On the day-to-day, my small but brilliant team at BGP and our trustees.
When you’re not being superwoman…. what do you like to do in your down time?
I’m definitely not superwoman – just because I’m the face of BGP doesn’t mean I do everything! I have an amazing team who support me and make it possible for me to run a fast moving and exciting organisation. In fact, I’m not even writing this right now, I’m doing this interview as a conversation with our amazing Comms Manager Rachel, who will write it up for me. (I forced her to write that she’s amazing!)
But when I’m not being a bloody activist, I love doing the usual but totally essential self-care things, like watching TV and going out for dinner.
So when you left Central Saint Martins, if BGP didn’t take off what would have been your plan B?
I would have gone with another idea in the sphere of social justice and feminism. But I’m bloody glad that BGP has become what it is today and is inspiring so many to get involved.